We need get away from the idea that sexism in fiction can be tackled by reliance on depiction of a single personality type, that you just need to write one female character per story right and you’ve done enough…

…What do I want instead of a Strong Female Character? I want a male:female character ratio of 1:1 instead of 3:1 on our screens. I want a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither, because they are more than strength or weakness. Badass gunslingers and martial artists sure, but also interesting women who are shy and quiet and do, sometimes, put up with others’ shit because in real life there’s often no practical alternative. And besides heroines, I want to see women in as many and varied secondary and character roles as men: female sidekicks, mentors, comic relief, rivals, villains. I want not to be asked, when I try to sell a book about two girls, two boys and a genderless robot, if we couldn’t change one of those girls to a boy.

'I hate Strong Female Characters'

Sophia Mcdougall, New Statesman

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters

Now Watching: Weeds

This dark comedy about a surburban mother making ends meet by selling marijuana to her neighbours has a huge amount of potential, exploring the same issues of morality, parenting and responsibility as Breaking Bad, allbeit with a more light-hearted touch.

 

Nancy Botwin, however, is no Walter White, and it’s interesting how differently the male and female sides of a very similar story are portrayed. Nancy is surrounded by a gaggle of supporting characters that help to justify her actions - she may be a drug dealer, but at least she is more responsible than her brother-in-law. She may be a transgressive mother, but at least she is better to her children than her bullying, overpowering neighbour. The actions of Walter’s family and friends, in contrast, are all driven by his decision to lie, cheat and deal drugs - his brother-in-law’s shooting, his wife’s affair, Jesse’s drug abuse - and he bears the weight of that throughout his journey to kingpin.

 

The decision to introduce Nancy’s brother-in-law as a returning character following the pilot episode is what disappoints me most about Weeds - seemingly, a story that centres on female experience, especially when that experience is transgressive, is simply not appealing unless qualified by a male presence and punctuated with humour each episode.

The Great Gatsby - before and after VFX

'Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields (nothing is real)'

So my take on why it’s really hitting the spot with men, other than its uncanny realism: the character vulnerability. The TV misfit character is often wholly void of women, to our detriment. Take The Office, in both the UK and US version the role of misfit was assigned to Gareth Keenan and Dwight Schrute respectively. Or consider Peep Show, I highly doubt Mark Corrigan was ever seriously considered as a female character in the midst of social awkwardness with such effect. And of course, the female Larry David has yet to present herself.

Ugly Betty tried but failed and instead gave us a rather fraudulent version with American clichés a plenty. Whilst here in the UK, many would argue that Miranda fulfils this. Yet the show doesn’t gather a male audience and I would argue that this is more down to a lack of quality rather than the reasons that will probably come my way.

'Why do middle-aged men love Girls?'

David Rivers, On the Box

http://channelhopping.onthebox.com/2013/06/06/why-do-middle-aged-men-love-girls/

What’s extraordinary about film is that you make it on the day, and then it’s like that forever more. On that day, the actor may have broken up with his wife the night before, so he’s inevitably going to read a scene differently. He’s going to be a different person.
I come from theater, which is live and changes every night. I thought film was going to be the opposite of that, but it’s not. It changes every time you watch it: Different audiences, different places, different moods that you’re in. The thing is logically fixed, but it still changes all the time. You have to get your head around that.

Danny Boyle

'Danny Boyle's 15 golden rules of moviemaking' Moviemaker

http://www.moviemaker.com/articles-directing/danny-boyle-15-golden-rules-filmmaking/

Hummingbird characters can be found on network and cable, in very different genres. They’re different ages; some are more manic, some sweeter or more sour. (Leslie Knope, for one, went from the butt of her show’s comedy to its glorified heroine.) But they do share traits: they’re idealistic feminine dreamers whose personalities are irritants. They are not merely spunky, but downright obsessive. And most crucially, these are not minor characters. On each show, the Hummingbird is a protagonist—an alienating-yet-sympathetic figure whose struggles are taken seriously and considered meaningful. This is not the female analogue of the cable anti-hero, as seen on shows like “Damages” or the promising new FX drama “The Americans”; it’s not a layered, sympathetic bad girl, like the great Juliette Barnes on “Nashville.” This is something else, an archetype that is grounded in ideas about compassion, but doesn’t strive for likability.

A new female television archetype?

'The Hummingbird Theory'

Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/03/the-hummingbird-theory.html

The View: A “Back-to-the-Camera Shot” Supercut

Zach Prewitt

Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoir, “Life Itself.” “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

Roger Ebert

Life Itself: A Memoir (2011)

Why are HBO television series so good?

Interesting Q&A from Quora…

"In the early 80s HBO and the Movie Channel were at each other’s throats in a death spiral to the ground to see who can buy the rights for the most movies. HBO, under Michael Fuchs, realized that movie distribution alone was not going to cut it. He was the first person to pioneer original programming on cable. (He really started when he was head of HBO Sports and brought on boxing. Jerry Levin was head of HBO and had the insight to beam up the signal via satellite so everyone could watch. This was the first use of satellite for TV). 

HBO was a cash machine from subscriptions. 30m subscribers paying $30 a month. They were spewing money. But costs of movies were going up. Fuchs brought on Chris Albrecht to run original programming. He was a former comedian. This is why so many original HBO shows (in the 90s) featured comedians (The Larry Sanders Show, for instance). And also why HBO had so many comedy specials from great comedians (Seinfeld, Carlin, etc) and why they had so many comedy shows that were way above network quality (The Larry Sanders Show, Dream On - all featuring up and coming comedians). HBO also started a comedy channel which later became Comedy Central. 

They didn’t really spend an enormous amount of money on shows. For instance, they never spent as much on a show as ABC spent on “Lost.” Like every business on the planet - quality is about relationships and not money. Fuchs brought on the best talent, Albrecht, who then hired the highest quality people  who happened to be his closest friends. And they ROCKED. 

So HBO became known as the place to be if you wanted to star in a quality comedy (and then later, drama). Note: HBO’s movies were never that great. (Early on they had “And the Band Played On” but not many other movies that became well known.)

Because  they didn’t cater to advertisers they could also take chances on series like “From the Earth to the Moon” and other high quality shows that would not have gotten a lot of ad dollars but quality guys to write them, further improving HBO’s reputation…

…HBO did this by not just focusing on good shows but bringing in and training and mentoring great talent. Note the many actors that appear on multiple HBO shows (Steve Buscemi is a great example).  At HBO talent was everything, both in its executives and its stars. If talent was in the building, it was all hands on deck.”

James Altucher

http://www.quora.com/HBO/Why-are-HBO-television-series-so-good#ans2301637

Internet nostalgia is a double-edged sword. The very escalating group pining that happens in relation to old projects does not necessarily mean they want to see more; as Matt Zoller Seitz wrote, beloved shows should remain dead. Nostalgia is grasping for the impossible: You don’t want more of what you remember fondly; you want to be back at the time when you enjoyed it, which is an impossibility. Fervent campaigning for more, more, more is really a rally for time to move backward. The disappointment of the Star Wars prequels wasn’t entirely the fault of the subpar movies, it’s that adults would never be able to see them with the same wonderment that they did when they were kids and played Luke and Han in their backyards. It was fun to beg for more Indiana Jones adventures, but Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was unsettling: Old Indiana Jones? We’re old — I don’t want to be reminded of that! Make him young; make us young! Witness the mass mind-losing over Girl Meets World. Once the thrill fades of first seeing the old Boy Meets World faces reunite, will there be any reward to seeing them deliver TGIF-caliber humor? And if it suddenly becomes smart, adult comedy, wouldn’t that feel just as wrong?

Josh Wolk, What’s Really Fueling the Veronica Mars Frenzy | Vulture

(via popculturebrain)

(via popculturebrain)

How hard is it to be a female human being in the media? Anne Hathaway is a pretty good measure. She learned everything she could about sex trafficking and prostitution to play Fantine, and knew only too well that modern-day Fantines were probably living within blocks of the Academy Awards. As she said in her acceptance speech, ‘Here’s hoping that someday in the not too distant future the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never in real life.’



Did that get coverage? No. Instead, the huge and expensive media beast speculated on her nipples. In a way, that makes Anne’s point. No wonder there are still Fantines, so many in the media think like pimps, traffickers and johns.

Gloria Steinem (via alittlecoconuttart)

(via nonversationheart)

He really seems to think he’s funny. Do you think he’s funny? I don’t think he’s funny. Like, the critics say it’s a funny show, but the comedy is kind of weird. And nothing ever HAPPENS. It’s just these privileged white people (and I mean, they’re ALL white) living their lives in New York. The only non-white characters are wacky immigrant cab drivers and soup vendors. Oh, hilarious: they can’t speak English well — what’s so groundbreaking about that?

And are we supposed to LIKE these characters? I know you say that part of the humor is seeing yourself reflected in these characters, but none of them are good people. They’re selfish, petty, narcissists. They’re constantly talking about themselves while treating other people like garbage. They claim to be friends, yet they do absolutely horrible things to each other. Are we supposed to see ourselves in this? That seems kind of twisted to me.

Did you know there’s an episode called “The Contest” that’s all about masturbation? And one called “The Apology” that’s about Jerry being casually naked around the apartment with his girlfriend. I know they’re trying to be edgy, but honestly it’s boring. Like, wow, an ugly guy doing things I’m used to seeing hot guys do. Great. It’s not funny; it’s just off-putting. And have you seen the stuff Jerry wears? He’s got big white sneakers and tight jeans – not flattering at all.

Also, did you know Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the daughter of the billionaire Gerard Louis-Dreyfus. It seems a little disingenuous to cast her as personal assistant when she’s probably never had to work a day in her life.

'If People Talked About Seinfeld Like They Talk About Girls'

Mike Trapp, College Humour

http://www.collegehumor.com/article/6874239/if-people-talked-about-seinfeld-like-they-talk-about-girls

"A Pixar film is a beautiful thing. Long after Toy Story’s 3-D novelty wore off, artists refined their techniques, so Up could make us cry. But in these computer-generated worlds full of perfect shapes and gradients, we inevitably lost some of that old Disney magic—the nuance of incredible, hand-drawn lines. “Isn’t there a way we can bring that hand of an artist back?” John Kahrs thought."

'Why This Oscar-Winning Disney Short Looks Like Nothing Made Before'

Mark Wilson, Fast Co.Design

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671941/why-this-oscar-nominated-disney-short-looks-like-nothing-made-before#1

The word is that YouTube partner companies Maker Studios, Machinima and Fullscreen, who control well over 10,000 YouTube channels between them, will be the first to take the plunge into pay subscription channels. Sure, these young companies have a huge number of channels, and tons upon mind-numbing tons of view counts. But the disconnect between what they offer on YouTube and what premium cable (or, for that matter, Netflix or Hulu Plus) offer is trying to find similarities between The Hubble Telescope to Kim Kardashian

'Why No One Wants to Pay for YouTube Channels'

Mashable

http://mashable.com/2013/02/21/no-one-pays-youtube-channels/

You know what I would pay for? Old YouTube, without the insanely annoying ads in front of every 30 second video.

tune in for musings on film and tv from steff - northerner-turned-londoner with a soft spot for all things cinematic. not so guilty pleasures include reality tv, gangster films and happy endings.

twitter.com/tv_kicks

view archive